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South Passaic Daily Voice serves Clifton, Haledon, Hawthorne, Little Falls, North Haledon, Passaic, Paterson, Prospect Park, Totowa, Wayne & Woodland Park

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Passaic County Law Enforcement Officials Explain Use Of Force

Dalton Price of the Bronze Shield organization speaks to the audience at a seminar on police use of force at Passaic County Community College in Paterson Thursday. Photo Credit: Joshua Jongsma
A panel consisting of Capt. Scott Heath of the county police shooting response team, county legal advisor Mary Catherine Ryan, Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Michael DeMarco, and Chief of Detectives Anthony Fulco speak in Paterson Thursday. Photo Credit: Joshua Jongsma

PATERSON, N.J. — Passaic County law enforcement officials spent some face-to-face time with the public Thursday night in Paterson to talk about a difficult subject: use of force.

"Part of what constrains us is what we can release to the public," Prosecutor Carmela S. Valdes said, adding that no one wants to hide facts.

Valdes moderated a panel consisting of Capt. Scott Heath of the county police shooting response team, county legal advisor Mary Catherine Ryan, Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Michael DeMarco, and Chief of Detectives Anthony Fulco.

The quartet discussed the workings of internal affairs, how grand jury operate and the timelines of investigations before Valdes urged attendees to question the experts.

An audience member asked how often police-related shootings occur locally. Fulco said there have been eight fatal police shootings in Passaic County since 2010. He compared the number to about 150 civilian homicides and 446 fatal shootings by non-police officers in the same time frame.

Dalton Price, president of the Bronze Shield organization, ran interactive simulations of shooting scenarios with the crowd.

In one, an audience member portraying a police officer pretended to shoot another person after he ignored her instructions to stop and reached into his backpack.

Price asked the audience if they thought the officer was justified and received a mixed response. Price said it showed the difficult nature of analyzing interactions with police force, especially without knowing all the facts and motivations of the people involved.

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